The 69th annual American Legion Auxiliary South Dakota Girls State drew 374 girls to the University of South Dakota last week, which concluded with the traditional election of officers and presentation of awards.
Under the direction of Cheryl Hovorka, Girls State Director, the participants who will enter their senior year of high school this fall were selected from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government.
Allyson Monson of Clark was elected Girls State governor and Rebekah Tuchscherer of Milbank was elected lieutenant governor. Additional elections included Taya Swanson of Whitewood, attorney general; Johnna Jorgensen of Mt. Vernon, secretary of state; Katie Lucas of Parkston, state auditor; McKala Loehrer of Milbank, state treasurer; Samantha Sommer of Colton, commissioner of school and public lands. Elected to the Public Utilities Commission were Cameron Schroder of Huron, McKayla Poppens of Lennox and Madisyn Jerman of Canistota.
In non-political elections, Girls State delegates elected Miranda Orth of Martin, Erica Kitchenmaster of Lake Andes, Rachel Kokales of Aberdeen, Emelia Nelson of Mina, Elizabeth Looby of Sioux Falls and Shannon Duffy of Rapid City as six justices to serve on the Supreme Court. Kirsten Anderson of Sturgis was elected as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Bridget Kayser of Alexandria was chosen as the speaker of the House of Representatives while Viola Ishmael of Gayville was selected as president pro tempore. Julia Loudenburg of Spencer was selected as the Nationalist Party chairwoman and Shelby Riggs of Mitchell as the Nationalist Party keynote speaker. The Federalist Party elected Morgan Fuller of Vermillion as keynote speaker and the Federalist Party elected Sidney Olson of Colton as party chairwoman. Anna Koeppe of Veblen was the recipient of the outstanding journalist award and Andrea Mikkelsen of Brandon received the highest exam score. Shelby Kluver of Watertown captured outstanding speaker honors and Kyle Siemers of Sioux Falls was selected as the outstanding Girls State citizen. Mikaela Stofferahn of Dell Rapids was selected outstanding speaker of the Senate and Abby Hora of Viborg was selected outstanding speaker of the House.
Awards were also presented to Emma Abbott of Huron, best Circuit Court judge; Renee Gallagher of Pierre, best prosecuting attorney; Courtney Welu of Hill City, best defense attorney; Claire Saltzman of Dakota Dunes, best appellate attorney; Madison Marquardt of Lennox, best appellee attorney; Kayla Stammer of Vermillion, outstanding forensic investigator; Julia Loudenburg of Spencer, president of citizens forum; and Hannah Smith of Sioux Falls received the vice president citizens forum award.
Victoria Johnson of Elk Point and Jane Poss of Philip were chosen as delegates to represent South Dakota at the American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., with Shelby Riggs of Mitchell and Madalyne Schuldt of Jefferson serving as alternates. Shelby Riggs of Mitchell was selected as the 2015 recipient of a $1,100 Samsung American Legion Scholarship. Brianna Anderson of New Effington was awarded the Bonnie Slade Memorial Scholarship and Mikaela Neubauer of Harrisburg received the Travis Memorial Scholarship.